Seed Lines, Population Density, and Root Size at Harvest Affect Quality and Yield of Cut-and-peel Baby Carrots

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  • 1 Vegetable Improvement Center, Horticultural Sciences Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-2133
  • 2 Texas Agricultural Research and Extension Center, 2415 East Highway 83, Weslaco, TX 78596
  • 3 Asgrow Seed Company, 7202 Portage Road, DeForest, WI 53532

Carrot (Daucus carota Mill. cv. Caropak) was studied under four population densities, and three numbers of seed lines per bed, and was harvested under three root size harvest parameters. Four phases (cutting, grading, peeling, and marketable yield) in the cut-and-peel baby carrot process were evaluated. Root length was most desirable when plots were harvested when 25% to 35% of the roots measured > 2 cm in diameter. Roots were longest (14.7 cm) in the treatments containing six seed lines per bed. The harvest criteria of 25% to 35% root diameter >2 cm also produced the highest fresh mass (48.1 t·ha-1), and the highest cut and graded mass (37.7 and 32.3 t·ha-1, respectively). A population density of 321 plants/m2 produced the highest fresh and cut mass. Percent cut waste (21.6% crowns and tips) was not affected by root size at harvest, but percent graded waste was lowest (14.2%) when plants were harvested at the greatest root size. Four seed lines per bed produced the highest graded (18.4%), and total waste (61.2%), but not cut waste. The lowest total waste, estimated at 59.7% and the highest projeced marketable yield (19.4 t·ha-1) occurred when roots were harvested using the 25% to 35% root diameter >2-cm parameter. Total waste and marketable yield were obtained using a fixed waste value of 40% in the peeling phase (peeling, polishing, and grading before packing). This percentage could vary depending on the equipment specifications and quality control of a given processing facility. Root size at harvest proved to be the main factor affecting projected marketable yield of cut-and-peel baby carrots at the population densities used in this study.

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